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Archive for 2017


PR, Crisis Communication & Repairing United’s Brand

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Google Advertising

By now, most people have heard of the United Airlines incident that occurred earlier this week. A paying customer was dragged off a United flight by officers when he refused to leave an overbooked flight. The graphic video, which shows the bloodied man being dragged down the airplane aisle, went viral instantly, creating a frenzy on social media and for reporters. While CEO Oscar Munoz vowed “This will never happen again”, many remain critical considering his initial controversial apologies. But what impact will this event have on United’s reputation and brand? While some PR crises have minimal push back on long-term financial performance, this specific incident may have serious consequences for UA’s business outcomes and reputation say brand experts. Business Insider depicts what has happened to United’s stock price since the incident , pointing out that as of Wednesday, April 12, UA’s stock’s lowest price was -4.3% below the open, resulting in a loss of $1 billion. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns 9% of all outstanding shares of United Continental Holdings Inc., and is estimated to lose up to $87 million because of the incident.

PR: Repairing the Damage

Many brand experts are speaking out about how much damage the airline has done to its brand, with most coming to the conclusion that United has a long way to go in order to repair the damage that was caused by the recent incident. Most large companies will face a PR crisis at some point or another. But United took a PR crisis and turned it into a total disaster. Matt Rizzetta, CEO of North 6th Agency believes United now needs to focus on customers who state they’ll never fly united again as well as those who are staying loyal to the company. He states:

“If the initial reaction on social media and at office water coolers is any indication, United has already lost a significant group of customers. Right now, United would be best served to approach its communications strategy into two customer retention buckets; one for customers that are still remaining loyal to the brand, and one for customers that claim they are never coming back to the brand. For the first bucket, it’s all about quick and swift communication that reinforces United’s values and shows immediate differentiation from the competition. The second bucket is a long-term strategy that will require a more personalized approach and can only be rebuilt over time.”

I would add that there’s a third bucket, China. As the doctor who was attacked was originally reported to be Chinese, people in China reacted fervently. A Chinese student in the UK began circulating a petition against the transportation giant with the hashtag #ChineseLivesMatter. And, Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, had over 85 million posts referencing the incident by late afternoon on Tuesday. (The incident happened on Sunday.) China is a huge market and a PR strategy that is sensitive to the Asian culture is the third imperative in this mix.

Many communications and PR experts share similar sentiments, but all agree that United has a long way to go in terms of repairing the damage done to its brand.

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Earned Media and The Fake News Effect

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Google Advertising

Traditionally, one of the most respected marketing assets to attain is earned media. Stories about your product or service appearing in the mainstream media are valuable because the unpaid endorsements are coming from an unbiased third party. Not to be confused with an advertorial, the earned media placement is a genuine shout out from a journalist who sees your product or service as worth writing about.

So what happens when fake news becomes a thing, and it diminishes consumers’ trust in the media in general? This year, fake news was one of the main themes at Europe’s Advertising Week . A study conducted in the UK found a significant decrease in trust of mainstream media, which not only hurts the media companies but also potentially damages the brands which advertise through these media giants.

The Consumer’s Growing Mistrust of The Media

While the UK undoubtedly struggles with this problem, it is an even bigger problem in US marketing and advertising practices. Over the past year, 47% of consumers have been concerned that a story they read may be fake, with 75% of those people losing trust in the media source from which the story came. The survey conducted by Network Research was comprised of over 1,000 adults ranging in age from 18 to 74 and proved that general trust in the media declined to 32% of people, with this number increasing to 38% for those in the 18-to-34-year range. For marketers who spend time pitching journalists for earned media placements, this could be very bad news.

Earned Media and Combatting Fake News

In the ever-increasing age of misguided information, advertisers and marketers need to be vigilant in their efforts to combat fake news. You may say that as an advertiser, it’s not really your responsibility; it’s the media outlet’s concern. In essence, it is, but it’s the advertisers who have the leverage to demand investigations. In March, the News Media Association (NMA) suggested “urgent investigation” into Facebook, Google, and other digital advertisers to fight back against fake news. Dominic Carter, chief commercial officer at News UK believes the answer to solving the fake-news crises lies in the relationship between brands and media agencies. Brands must assert social media distributors, such as “the likes of YouTube and Facebook, and the credibility of the source [of the material] their ad is being placed on. It is the responsibility of those people to make sure that doesn’t happen, which [is in their] control.”

Great Brand Content Wins Over Fake News

Besides asking for media platforms to initiate better fact checking, brands themselves need to have authentic engagement with their audiences. Research conducted by Network Research regarding brand advertising revealed that 77% of those surveyed agreed that familiar brands are a trustworthy source of information, and 77% of people find content created by a familiar brand more trustworthy than information shared by friends on social media (67%). Abby Carvasso, managing director of advertising at Bauer Media says, “Not all content is the same, not all attention is equal either – If you have a deeper brand engagement, you are more likely to get a better recall of that brand message.”

From these studies and statements given by experts in the industry, it is clear that brands and media distributors will have to work hand-in-hand in order to combat fake-news and ultimately increase consumer’s trust in advertising content.

Brand Extension: AmazonFresh

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Amazon’s Latest Brand Extension Puts Groceries Straight to the Trunk of Your Car

Google Advertising

Amazon has been practicing brand extensions since they expanded their inventory from books a decade ago. Never failing to create unique strategies to retain and grow their customer base, Amazon has recently announced its entrance into the e-grocery world. The launch of AmazonFresh Pickup, lets customers place their grocery order online, drive to an AmazonFresh location, and have someone place the order straight into their trunk. Amazon claims that orders can be completed in as little as 15 minutes. According to the company, AmazonFresh Pickup gives consumers thousands of options to choose from, ranging from basic everyday items, such as bread, milk, and toilet paper to expensive, top-choice cuts of meat.

AmazonFresh will be free for Amazon Prime members once testing is complete, but currently, the beta launch is currently only available for employees in the Seattle area. Last December, Amazon announced a similar brick-and-mortar store idea called AmazonGo, which would give customers the ability to enter the store, grab desired items, and leave without having to interact with a cashier, as items will be scanned automatically and then charged to their respective account via an app. However, Amazon has yet to unveil this idea to the public.

Amazon has been toying with numerous ways of reinventing traditional grocery shopping habits, and AmazonFresh is the newest example of the company’s innovative strategies. Trends are suggesting that physical grocery stores are becoming replaced by e-grocery marketplaces , such as those soon offered by Amazon. Similar to banks and electronic retailers, grocery shopping is becoming an amalgamation of physical and online entities. Walmart is another company getting in on the online grocery store market, as they recently announced an online shopping and in-store pickup option similar to that offered by AmazonFresh. While it has yet to be determined who will run the e-grocery sector, it is certain that online grocery stores will shift consumer habits away from brick-and-mortar stores.

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Advertising Update: Carl’s Jr. Changes Their Message

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Google Advertising

Carl’s Jr., notoriously known for overtly sexual advertisements, has adopted a new approach to advertising strategies. In its new ads, the younger, more provocative Carl Hardee Jr. has been replaced by a charming and more senior Carl Hardee Sr., who is not one for provocative, bikini-clad women. The new strategy is vastly different from previous ads, where millennial playboy Hardee Jr. has previously been known for flaunting his flashy lifestyle and using naked women and sex appeal to appeal to consumers, a tactic Carl’s Jr. has relied on to sell burgers for over 15 years.

Advertising Evolution

The new ad featuring Carl Hardee Sr., played by actor-musician Charles Esten from Nashville, addresses the shortcomings of the previous advertising strategies from the get-go. Booting his sex-obsessed millennial son from the company, Hardee Sr. aims to take back the business and bring back to the focus to fresh, juicy hamburger patties and away from scantily-clad women in bikinis. “It was time to evolve,” says Jason Norcross, executive creative director, and partner at the advertising agency 72andSunny . “Some of the product attributes got lost because people were too busy ogling girls.” Along with its new, less controversial ads, the company has also introduced a new tagline: “Pioneers of the great American burger.”

Although Carl’s Jr. is changing its narrative, execs know that there’s no use in ignoring the contentious tactics of the past. New ads feature previous stars like Genevieve Morton, Emily Sears, Elena Belle, and Charlotte McKinney, however strictly as works of art and cardboard cutouts. The target audience has remained consistent – younger, burger-hungry men – but Norcross states that the company is looking to be a competitor among more cheaply-priced rivals, such as The Habit and Shake Shack. The new campaign will focus strictly on “food, not boobs,” a much-desired change from its past campaigns.

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